Friday, September 26, 2008

Ramadan Kareem

...the weekend starts early here. On Thursday evening to be precise. The pre-weekend euphoria is such a universal feeling. It doesn't matter whether the weekend starts on Friday night, or Thursday night, or any other day or night of the week, the lightness of mood, the glow on peoples faces, and the anticipation in their eyes is the same everywhere!

The weekend mood was more visible today than during the last weekend because this is the last week of the Holy month of Ramadan, and the much awaited Eid holiday started this week. After a month of fasting, abstaining from food and water during the day, this holiday brings the same zeal, festivity and enthusiasm in this part of the world as Christmas and New Year in the West.

The interesting thing about the Holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East is that eating and drinking in public places is prohibited before sundown. It wasn't without knowledge of this fact that I had landed in Bahrain. I was well aware of this rule, but its practical implications had not dawned on me till I actually set foot here. Our flight landed at 9 in the morning at Abu Dhabi in the UAE (where we had a stopover). The courteous air hostesses in business class had not woken me up for breakfast, and just before landing I realized what a soup I was in (and I craved for soup, or anything edible). I should've asked for food! Will I really have to wait till EVENING for the next meal!? Luckily the business class lounge breakfast bar was open and I ate all I could - in order to sustain till evening.

The next shock came...the same day! When my loving husband looked at me very lovingly (and I knew something was up) and mentioned that he would need me to pack lunch for him next morning...because all restaurants cafes and eating places of all sorts are closed during the up until the day before Eid, I would get up in the morning (despite the jetlag) and cook for him! A typical Indian wifey thing that I had never done till now, and was not expected to do.
Oh well. It was beginning to sink in now. I was in a truly different part of the world. A culture I had read about and heard of, but never lived before. Much as I was prepared for it, the practical aspects of the situation were but different.

Now because shop opens late during Ramadan, it closes late too. During the past few days, we made a few visits to a few malls. We would start late and come home really late. And no matter how late it was, the malls were always packed with shoppers. Since most Bahrainis can be distinguished by their traditional abayas and thobes (traditional wear), I could tell that, with Eid around the corner, they formed a large part of this pack of shoppers. What was more surprising was that, when we would drive out from the mall (well past 10PM), we could see a long line of cars waiting to enter the mall in the opposite lane! Being the shopaholic that I am, I wish malls everywhere would stay open so late!

Will be back with more on the malls and other things after Eid.

Till then, Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak!! (have a generous Ramadan and best wishes for Eid)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blogging in Bahrain

And liking it!

Well now that I finally have some time at hand, and some idle time too, the devil has opened up workshop in this idle mind. And thanks to modern times, there is a quick and easy way to let out these works from the workshop - THE BLOG!

I have enough time now to forward forwarded emails to friends. Even those that say "forward to 5 people in 5 minutes for good luck in 5 hours"
Well the only good luck I had was two Mallu men make our apartment sparkling clean! Which is quite some luck given the fact that till last week I used to cook and clean and wash and fold and dust and tend to baby all by myself all day long...and go to work too! Well that was the US, land of the consumeristic and the individualistic beings. But this is Bahrain! The sun is always out, there are always people on the streets, kids are free to run around and yell without causing trauma to anyone, there are lots of kids, diapers can be changed anywhere (there is an incident I will narrate about this), apartments are huge, curtains (not blinds) are always drawn because the natural light is too bright...I could go on and on about the differences in the look and feel and cultures of the two nations.

But its time to call it a day and get some sleep now. 

Need to get up early!

Till the next post,

Take care and God bless,
Sanu and her mom